Reproductive Questions and Answers for Cancer Survivors: Fertility Treatments

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cancer-ribbonIn-vitro Fertilization (IVF) with your own eggs: 

This type of IVF involves fertilizing your eggs with your partner’s sperm in a laboratory environment after you have received injections of fertility medicine. These fertilized eggs or embryos, are then put back into your uterus. Otherwise, they are frozen and kept in the lab until you are ready to become pregnant. At that time, the frozen embryos (fertilized eggs) are thawed and then put into your uterus where one of the eggs has the potential of developing into a baby.

You can only use your own eggs if they are removed and fertilized before your cancer treatment begins. Human eggs can be frozen and fertilized later; however, this method is not as effective.

IVF – with donor eggs: This is done by removing another woman’s egg from her ovary, fertilizing it with your partner’s sperm, and putting that fertilized egg into your uterus. You would then carry and give birth to the baby. This type of fertility treatment is offered to women who have POI (premature ovarian insufficiency) and do not make eggs. Your uterus (womb) will be able to carry a baby even if you have POI, unless you were treated for a Wilm’s tumor or received high doses of radiation directly to your vagina or uterus.

Gestational Carriers: If, as a result of your cancer treatment, your ovaries are still healthy but your uterus is not, it is possible to have another woman (called a gestational carrier) carry a baby that comes from one of your eggs. In this case, an egg would be removed from your ovary and fertilized by your partner’s sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg would then be implanted into the gestational carrier’s uterus, and she would carry the baby until birth. Before the baby’s birth, you would work with a lawyer so that the child will be yours both legally and genetically. If both your ovaries and uterus are damaged, you can also use a gestational carrier with donor eggs and your partner’s sperm.

Adoption: This is another important option for young women who have premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). There are many children who need a home and are adopted by both couples and single women who are unable to have their own children